Scott parker: The heart and soul of West Ham
We are through four games in the Barclay's Premier League and already we are seeing how the league is shaping up. Only four teams are still unbeaten (Chelsea, Fulham, Arsenal, Manchester United) while we see three others still yet to record there first wins (West Ham, Stoke, Everton).
Amazingly, through four rounds, Chelsea has now gained a 12 point buffer over the "Irons" and an astonishing 26-goal difference between the sides (Chelsea are plus-16, West Ham minus-10).
As you can see West Ham is already in deep trouble and already there are reports that Avram Grant is facing the sack. But are we surprised about the recent results? I am a West Ham fan and predicted them to finish in around 11th position come season's end.
Teams I thought would be above them included Aston Villa, Chelsea, and Manchester United. Three of the four sides that have toppled them already. I would have expected us to grab only the three points against Bolton so far in the campaign.
It is more the nature of the results that is surprising. We have conceded 12 goals already (three in each game) whilst our only scores have been from the penalty spot and a stunner from Scott Parker.
West Ham has gradually improved in each game so far and apart from the first 20 minutes drew level with Chelsea, which few teams will be able to say as the season progresses. I think relegation calls are premature and here are five ways West Ham can stay up.
1. Stay confident
Sounds easy enough, right? When West Ham play with confidence and take the game on they can match it with most teams in the comp. We were shown today is spurts what a class act we were and dominated in phases against Chelsea.
With four losses (the worst start in the club's history) and with fixtures away to Stoke before Tottenham it could be quite easy for confidence too slump so it's important the club can steal points in either of those games to build on throughout the season.
2. Stop starting Boa Morte
I have no idea why Avram Grant keeps starting him. Injuries have taken their toll on him and he is clearly past his prime. He probably still has enough to be handy off the bench but that is about it. How he is starting ahead of a rekindled Kieron Dyer and Pablo Barrera is beyond me.
The sooner Hitzlsperger comes back the better. If Kieron Dyer can have an injury-free year would be a big boost as well.
3. Find a settled defense
So far the problem has been the defence, by far. They are yet to settle and continually conced goals (at least they are consistent in doing so). So far Reid, Faubert, Spector, and Jacobsen have been trialled in the right back position and Tomkins, Gabbidon, and Ben Haim have been tried accompanying Upson at the centre of defense.
So far, you would say Ben Haim and Jacobsen have been best in the roles but you cannt say it with confidence. Green and Upson, despite starting every game, are in horrible form and making some horrible blunders that shouldn't be made by England internationals, yet alone so regularly.
West Ham's front half are also struggling to keep it in attack and we look vulnerable on the counter. They need to find a successful and consistent back four that they can rely on throughout the season.
4. Mark Noble and Carlton Cole to have a breakthrough year
Both players have been regulars for a while and have promised so much without being able to consistently perform at the highest level. Mark Noble is the longest serving current West Ham player, already being in the squad several seasons, and Carlton Cole is a full international and is still lurking in national squads.
Mark Noble has started decently already with a goal from the penalty spot and has looked good while the ball is at his feet. Although he hasn't been able to bring himself into the game more and impose himself as more of a threat.
Carlton Cole has gone missing through the start of the campaign after a promising preseason. He hasn't got into any games at all although it doesn't help if the ball is struggling to get there. He has kicked 10 goals in each of the last two seasons previous and West Ham fans will be hoping he can get the goal tally to 13 to 15 this season.
5. Make Scott Parker captain
If each player played with the same heart and intensity of the "No. 8" then we wouldn't be sitting on the bottom of the table. He never goes into challenges half-heartedly and create chances going forward. Giving him the captains armband may rub some of those qualities off to the other players. He already plays like a captain so the transition would be minimal. He is certainly one player who will bring West Ham out of their current slump.
With 34 games left in the season, there is still a long time to go. But if West Ham can achieve or apply the things I mention I believe there is no doubt they can avoid relegation and finish in a decent position.